Sunday, January 4, 2015

Tyler Coke Works-Tyler, PA

Today I took a drive up to Clearfield County to check out the coke ovens at Tyler. There are two blocks of beehive ovens and it appears that they're all still there. The ovens aren't in the greatest condition, all the fronts are missing. What makes this site so interesting is how well preserved the coke yard itself is. The wharfs of both blocks are almost entirely intact and there are also ruins of the massive coal washer.


The coke works at Tyler date back to around 1906 and were constructed by the Cascade Coal and Coke Company of Sykesville, PA. Initially the plant only contained one block of beehive ovens but by 1917 it had two blocks with a total of 400 ovens. I am uncertain how long ago the ovens went cold and how much later the mines lasted. The Cascade Coal and Coke Company was a subsidiary of the Buffalo and Susquehanna Iron Company and all the coke produced at Tyler was shipped to their mills in Buffalo, NY. 


I had been aware of the ovens at Tyler for quite a while but it is a pretty far drive. What got me interested was these photos I located of the ovens being built. After I saw these I just had to make the trip.


Notice the "Tyler" marked in the bottom left corner of these photos.


And these are my photos from today. 

This is the mud pit I walked through to get to the ovens. The structure on the left contains a conveyor belt but doesn't seem to go under ground. More on that later.

This is the condition of pretty much all of the ovens at Tyler.

Charlie Browns Christmas Tree got replanted here!!

Looking down off the wharf. Old ties from the siding that used to serve the ovens.

Looking across the field at one of the piers that used to carry the track from the mines to the ovens. The mines were located in the hills on the other side of the valley.

Part of this ovens arch remain.

Wharf wall between the two blocks.

Loading area between the two blocks.

Old pier near the tipple area.

These are ruins of the old coal washer building.

Looking from the washer ruins at the ovens.

This empty area in the middle of the two blocks is where the tipple was located.

Close up of the wharf wall.

Trunnel hole.

A piece of the larry support that erosion daylighted.

Wall and ovens.

Another section of wharf wall.

This oven is probably the most intact here.

While I was here I attempted to fit the skyline in the old photo with today. The old photo seems like it was taken from the tipple so I obviously couldn't get that shot. I also couldn't get it from the middle of the block due to all of the trees. I took this from the end of the block and lined up the hills as best I could.

Height is off but it looks like the photo was taken from this block looking north.

More ovens.

This nice piece of tile block is now part of this tree.

This is the structure with the conveyer belt inside.

There are holes on the top and the belt still holds coal.

Looking back at the ovens from the conveyor structure.

Piers from the mine track going over the active railroad track.

At least the right track appears active. The left track looks a little sketchy.

On the way back I stopped at Sykesville to see if I could locate anything from the other Cascade coke plant located here. I found a block of rectangular ovens right off the road as well as some beehives further back in the woods. I'm saving these for another day.

Some of the rectangular ovens at Sykesville.

Soon. I will be back soon.


  1. Nice!!! I actually heard of Sykesville while growing up in Northern Cambria County but
    I've never heard of Tyler. What is also interesting is that there were deep and strip mines all around when I was growing up in the late 50's through the early 80's but no coke ovens adjacent to the mines. I guess by that time technology / manufacture processes had changed and everything was loaded on coal trains and shipped elsewhere to make the coke.

    1. Tyler is out there. You really have to be looking for it. It's not somewhere you just stumble across. Yes, I think later on the coal was all shipped to the mills where they coked it on site.

  2. Does anyone still live in Tyler? My mom along with many brothers and sisters were born there but the family moved to NY around 1930. I went with my mom, uncle and aunt to visit the area in 1960 but don't remember anything.

    1. Yeah, there's a couple houses still there and people live in them. I didn't talk to anybody but there were cars parked outside of them. Maybe like 5 or 6 houses left.

  3. Great Photos, helps to preserve the heritage of the coal & coke industries of our area. The DuBois Area Historical Society is sponsoring a symposium on the B & S Railroad and their Coal & coke operations on 4 & 5 August 2017. Contact

    1. Thanks Dick, that sounds like something I'd definitely be interested in. I'll see if I can find the D.A.H.S. online or else I'll try the email address. I appreciate you letting me know.

  4. I just happened on the site when I was looking up the town where mY mother was born in 1920. I wonder if my grandfather worked in these places. His name was Earl McCracken. Maybe someone will read this and be able to tell me something about my family. Thank you very much for the pictures.

    1. My Mom is from Hollywood/Tyler, her maiden name was Monaghan /Zenoski. We were looking at this site as we visit there every summer. She said she remembers the McCracken name.

    2. Maybe a coincidence, but there's a McCracken in-law in my family:

  5. I did not put my name or email. Geraldine Hoffman

  6. great shots and comparisons. you did alot of work and as they say you did good.

  7. Born and raised in Tyler (1979-1996). In the 80s the tipple was still active along with the railyard. We played in those areas. There's so much history in this little village, and I thank you for your pictures. I was told all the time that at one time, Tyler was a large coal boom town with all the amenities that called for, including bars and brothels.

  8. Great photos Mike. Tyler's always been one of my favorites. The Mine Map shows where many of the houses were at (see PA Mine Map Site), and IUP has a nice photo of the Tyler tipple. There's a guy above Byrneville (spelling?) who has some nice photos. Brynesdale also has around 110 coke ovens. There's some tipple piers at Weedville, and some really good "mountain" coke ovens at Calendonia.